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UK gypsies speak of need to unite

UK, 16.6.2008 15:56, (Roma Daily News)

Faced with a rising tide of racism better unity is needed within the Romany movement in Britain, influential voices were heard to say this week.

Meeting at Dale Farm, the UK's largest Gypsy township still under siege by a hostile local authority, newly-elected members of the Gypsy Council spoke (10 June) of their wish to help a achieve a common front.

"I would like to see the revived Gypsy Council and the Federation working together," said John Johnson, chair of the Southern England Romany Gypsy & Irish Traveller Network, following his co-option as a committee member.

Joe Jones, another leading federation spokesman went further, suggesting that the GC and the national Federation, which links some 56 local groups, could agree to merge. "The Gypsy Council has been in decline but it has the brand name," said Richard Sheridan, newly elected president. "We at Dale Farm need everyone's support and this is the best place for us to make a start towards real unity."

The meeting resolved unanimously that members of the Federation should be invited to attend and participate in the next Gypsy Council session, at Greenwich University in July. Katie Goldsmith, of the Gypsy and Traveller Alliance Youth Division, co-opted to help form a new youth section at Dale Farm, said shebelieved young people could spearheard the movement, providing street drama at protest events.

Johnson said it was an outrage that a local MP should lead a 200-strong demonstration against a Travellers' site in Basingstoke, stirringup yet more race hatred against a minority. This is where we needed to unite and act together, Johnson stressed.

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